LILBURN, Ga., February 1, 2013 — If you ever retire, it should be to Lilburn, Georgia, in the manner and style of General Beauregard Lee, resident weather prognosticator and supreme holder of all the weather rights for the United States, as well as one heck of a Southern groundhog.
General Lee, you see, has been emerging from his den within a “mansion” since 1990 in order to assist the “meteorologists” of the country determine when spring will arrive. And he has an amazing high percentage of being correct.
His Southern-style mansion, called “Weathering Heights,” is a true domicile for a Southern groundhog, complete with columns, an architectural water fountain and a mailbox to hold the volume of letters he receives from all over the country.
Since he must be informed as to world weather situations, a satellite dish was installed, allowing him to watch Animal Planet when he tires of the Weather Channel.
He works only on February 2 of each year, and there is no Rodent Union to argue for less work hours, since he doesn’t need it.
It is a big day for the gray-coated animal with the brightest eyes ever seen, and his phone line is already open for weather advisories and updates, as necessary. Callers from around the world contact him for necessary February information and forecasts.
The General eats a good diet for the most part, but Cody of his PR office admits that “he’s a Southern groundhog, and so he likes Waffle House hash browns and grits,” by preference, as well as grits with cheese.
His accuracy is such that twice the National Weather Service has recognized him. The sage prognosticator has two honorary doctorates, one as “DWP” or Doctor of Weather Prognostication, and one as a Doctor of Southern Groundology or “DSG.”
At the appointed hour on February 2 of each year, either a bell is rung or Reveille is played, and in the ambling gait only a true Southern groundhog can muster, he shakes his little head to clear out the winter’s cobwebs, and strides (waddles) quickly from the house —“quickly” as it applies to a tad overweight groundhog.
While many people (and mundane press groups) seem only to be aware of the other predictor who lives at Gobblers Knob in Pennsylvania, true aficionados recognize General Beau as THE guy to consult. The two have never met, and one wonders if the Yankee accent in the chirps of the Pennsylvania one might sound very alien to Beau, whose chirps are softer to the ear.
Quite possibly, each one had predecessors or ancestors on the fields of Vicksburg and Gettysburg, and with their gray coats, it would be hard to tell who was who.
The legend shared both by Gen. Beau in Georgia and Punxsutawney Phil in Pennsylvania originated in the 5th century when wise people realized that animals frequently evidenced supernatural ways on special days, and that these days seemed to occur about halfway between the winter equinox and the spring solstice.
In Europe people discovered that both bears and groundhogs ended hibernation at that time, but if they came out too early, they would see their own shadows and return to their den (or Southern mansion) to continue their sleep. And so a legend began.
It was left to organized religion to apply the icing to the groundhog cake, but since Candlemas Day was then considered pagan, it somehow morphed into Groundhog Day.
An old English song reciters it this way:
If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.
As to current events of which he keeps apprised via the Hibernia Hibernator paper, Gen. Beau acknowledges that he was unconcerned over the recent election, and he didn’t bother to come out and vote. Obviously he is a totally anti-guns in any form, since many of his friends and relatives have suffered the deadly fate by so-called hunters, and he wishes everyone could live in peace and harmony, just as his kind do.
There are plans afoot to bring a young lady groundhog in to share his abode, and doubtless General Beauregard Lee would be happy to see that come about. Both would fit in with the other large number of native animals at the Yellow River Game Ranch where his home is located. And of course, there is a website which includes information on General Lee, which can be found at www.yellowrivergameranch.com.
Some people make groundhog shaped cookies, some mold his likeness into a large cake or even a meatloaf, but until February 2 goes into the record books again, the uncanny feelings of a lovable groundhog in Georgia will again rule the waves. And several hundred people will come to the game ranch on February 2, to witness his wake-up call and response.
Happy Groundhog Day!!!
An update as of this morning — General Beauregard Lee came out to a sunny Georgia morning and DID see his shadow, so six more weeks of winter in the South anyway. His Northern nemesis did not see his shadow, so the two weather prognosticators do not agree. Wish we’d asked them who will win the Super Bowl tomorrow!!
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